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Worker tests positive for hep A at Bauer’s Candies

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FDA, state and local health officials investigating

By BEN CARLSON

The federal Food and Drug Administration is investigating a local candy factory after an employee there tested positive for hepatitis A, according to information released Tuesday by the Anderson County Health Department.

An employee at Bauer’s Candies, located at 1103 Dylan Drive, Lawrenceburg tested positive Nov. 27, according to the news release, which says the “risk of patrons becoming infected is very low.”

No information was released about a possible recall of the candy.

Nurse Administrator Renee Durr of the health department said the agency is working closely with the state Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA, and encouraged people to get themselves vaccinated against the disease.

A highly infectious liver disease, hepatitis A is typically spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Bauer’s Candies has been in business for more than a century and is the maker of the famous Modjeska, described on the company’s website as “a homemade creamy marshmallow center hand dipped into a rich and creamy homemade caramel.” The website said the candy, originally named “caramel biscuit,” is named after Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska, who appeared on stage in Louisville in 1883.

Although the candy maker allows tours of its facility, it doesn’t sell candy at the factory. Instead, the candy is shipped all over the world for online orders along with being available at numerous retail outlets.

Company owner Anna Bauer released the following statement Tuesday through the health department.

“Bauer’s Candies has cooperated fully with this investigation and will continue to do so moving forward,” she said. “Bauer’s Candies, in an effort to be proactive, has made it mandatory since October, that all employees will have their hepatitis A vaccination or they will be unable to work for Bauer’s.”

Hepatitis A first made headlines here in late August, when a student at Anderson County High School tested positive, despite a state mandate that all students be vaccinated against the infection or file an allowed waiver before school began earlier that month.

The issue grew tense in the week that followed as school officials scrambled to meet a deadline imposed by the Anderson County Health Department that no students be allowed to attend school without having proof of the vaccine.

That deadline passed, but school officials still allowed students to ride school buses and attend classes.

They have since said all students have been either vaccinated or have appropriate waiver forms on file.

The Taco Bell restaurant on U.S. 127 Bypass had an employee test positive in October. The restaurant closed for an afternoon for what was said to be a “deep cleaning” and reopened later that day.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.